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The I Ching, art of divination

  Written by Evie


The I Ching, or the Book of Changes, is an ancient Chinese manuscript that enables us to look into the future. It is the oldest book beginners' book on divination in the World.

Its origins go all the way back to antiquity. The most important events in China's history are written within it. The I Ching is also a book of wisdom from all other oriental philosophies draw inspiration: Confucianism, Taoism have their roots in the I Ching.

The Book of Changes is a set of sings that predict the future. Calling upon oracles was common practice in Antiquity. The majority of questions were of the "yes/no" variety, A "yes" or a "no" being easier to express. These are called "closed-ended questions". A "yes" was represented by a solid line and a "no" by two short dashes.

Over time, divination became more and more complex and expanded to include open-ended questions. From then on, these simple lines turned in a series of eight trigrams. The eight trigrams represent the passage from one form, one state, to another. Everything in the universe is in a continual state of transformation, and the I Ching translates this change with its trigrams.

The I Ching is attributed to four Chinese saints: Fu Xi, King Wen of Zhou, the Duke of Zhou, and Confucius. The mathematical structure of the I Ching fascinated the philosopher Leibniz, who saw in it the first expression of binary arithmetic. By starting with the duality of Yin and Yang and then dividing these further in a coherent system, we arrive at 64 different figures.

Trigrams turn to hexagrams, which are also represented with straight lines and made up of six dashes. A solid line represents the Yang, a broken one the Yin, which are themselves split into two distinct categories: changing or unchanging.

The 64 hexagrams sum up the order of the universe: each one corresponds to a situation, or the Yin, a "negative" element, representing the earth, femininity, and is in opposition with the Yang, the "positive" element, representing the sky and masculinity. The I Ching relies, then, on a balance between the Yin and the Yang, the plus and the minus. Nothing ever ends, everything is cyclical.

The I Ching suggests an attitude, a behavior to adopt in regards to the question asked but doesn't give a straight answer. It aims to help the questioner understand the situation they are in and points out the way for them to follow in order to avoid any pitfalls, to make the most of it, and lastly, to stay upon the right path. To properly interpret the I Ching, one must understand its signs and symbols.

The I Ching interprets the current world and its evolution. It is an oracle that can be consulted in order to find out what direction to take in one's life. The most widely known method for consulting the I Ching involves using three coins. Tails represents "2", and heads represents "3". All three coins are tossed and the 2's and 3's are added up. The total will naturally fall between 6 and 9. A 6 represents the changing Yin (or old Yin), 7 the unchanging Yang (young Yang), 8 the unchanging Yin (young Yin), and 9 the changing Yang (old Yang).

Next, depending on what total is obtained, lines are drawn from the bottom up. After six such lines, we get a hexagram. In order to interpret them, all that is needed is to consult the hexagram table in the book and see what each is called. Then, read the advice for each one to get the answer the question you asked. In antiquity, the Chinese used yarrow sticks to develop their skills as mediums on the topic.


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